Lithia & Driveway CEO says he's hopeful supply of vehicles will improve later this year

  • The CEO of Lithia & Driveway, formerly known as Lithia Motors, told CNBC on Thursday he's hopeful the availability of vehicles for sale improves later in 2021.
  • Lithia's Bryan DeBoer said on "Mad Money" that the car retailer finished the second quarter with more used vehicles than new.
  • "I know as we reach further into the year, there probably won't be quite as much demand, which will help balance things out some," he added.

The CEO of Lithia & Driveway, formerly known as Lithia Motors, told CNBC on Thursday he's hopeful the availability of vehicles for sale improves later in 2021.

The global auto industry has been plagued by a shortage of semiconductors that has limited production at a time during the coronavirus pandemic when demand for personal vehicles skyrocketed. The result has been depleted inventories and a huge jump in used cars prices, contributing to a rise in inflation in the U.S. economy.

In an interview with on "Mad Money" with Jim Cramer, Lithia's Bryan DeBoer noted the Oregon-based car retailer sells both new and used vehicles and, as a result, "we're able to balance inventory so we can keep pricing quite attractive."

"We exited the quarter with about a 58-day supply in used which is plenty of used cars to keep prices as competitive as we possible can," DeBoer said. "We were only at about 25-day supply in new vehicles on a little bit lower sales rate so new cars are a little tight still. But we see going into the second half of the year that things should be starting trough out and hopefully supplies return."

July retail sales fell more than Wall Street expected, according to government data released earlier this week, and one of the biggest drops came from motor vehicles and parts dealers, which declined 3.9%.

The multiple rounds of Covid stimulus checks, plus the recent expansion of the child tax credit, have helped U.S. consumers be in a position to buy vehicles, DeBoer said. At this point, though, the executive said his advice for would-be customers is "be a little patient."

"There's more cars to come. We won't have major shortages. Our manufacturers are figuring out ways to adjust with that supply chain, and I know as we reach further into the year, there probably won't be quite as much demand, which will help balance things out some."

In its most recent quarterly report, Lithia reported the largest per-share earnings and revenue in its history. Shares of Lithia closed Thursday's session at $333.78, declining 1.72%. The stock is up 14% year to date and 27.64% over the past 12 months.

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